With the many different types of therapy that exist, you deserve to know if you're going to meet Freud, Buddha or Billy Graham before paying for therapy. what to expect when you sit down to talk with me...
My philosophy of therapy is based on empirical science. I consider myself a pragmatic therapist, using evidence-based approaches proving study after study what helps relationships not only to survive but also to thrive. Luckily, much of Western science is catching up with Eastern medicine and there is a wealth of knowledge available that challenges traditional psychotherapy methods with intuitive flexibility. Specifically, I use the foremost Gottman and Emotionally-Focused relationship methods, while incorporating feminist principles and mindful awareness strategies based on neuroscientific data. We now know happiness is not set in stone. In fact it is about 50% genetics, 10% circumstances and 40% intentional activity (source). That 40% is huge. And that's what we focus on.
Interpersonal Neuroscience: how we think
This is the foundation of how I understand and explain therapy. Studies have shown behaviors (the intentional activity part) are formed from habits engrained in our brains that at some point were consciously formed or learned--but now we largely act without thinking. By becoming aware of our habits again, we are already beginning to change the connections in our brains. Psychotherapy largely does naturally what psychotropic medications do (strengthen or weaken connections in the brain), without the side effects (source). The ultimate goal of psychotherapy is to form and/or strengthen productive habits and biases, while bringing attention to and focusing less on the unproductive ones. In individual and relationship therapy, the results can be relationships that are more secure, gratifying and reciprocated. Science also shows that your body stores much of your emotional pain, and that's why I highly recommend active movement such as yoga, dance or exercise to supplement psychotherapy.
So. You are not stuck in this pattern forever--even if it has been going on for years! It's just time to bring some attention to it and make some intentional change.
Gottman Method: What Causes relationships to Last (or not last)
I use Drs. John and Julie Gottmans' critically acclaimed methods, combining wisdom from 4 decades of research with over 3000 couples. Although this method is largely heteronormative, there are some great foundational tools discovered about relationships that we can draw from and build upon. To correct for this, the Gottman Institute has studied LGBTQIA partnerships over the past two decades and identified unique strengths in these groups. What makes this method so reliable? The Gottmans studied couples inside their Love Lab at the University of Washington in Seattle, where they observed them with cameras, microphones, a one-way mirror, heart monitors, bodily sensors, and stress hormone testing. They were able to study over time which relationships would end, and which lasted. They also studied partners who have been together for decades and are very happy. Ultimately, they became able to systematically identify which behaviors coincide most with breakup, and conversely which are exhibited by the longest-lasting, secure partnerships.
These known strengths provide the relationship foundational friendship, shared power, mutual respect and appreciation. Much of this is surprisingly true of parenting as well, as Gottman has found similar behaviors make or break the parent-child bond, and parents serve as emotion coaches for their children, leading by example in order for the relationship to thrive.
Read more about Gottman's findings on couples here →
Mindfulness-based Therapy helps change more rapidly occur as it becomes easier to spot unhelpful thoughts and behaviors and readjust them. Research shows when we slow down and more purposefully notice what is going on at present (instead of worrying over the past or future), we are able to lessen emotional distress, angry or anxious reactivity, and instead act more adaptively with mental flexibility, improving relationship satisfaction (source; source). This is what helps begin to change the engrained habits that continue to lead to relationship dissatisfaction.